John “Toy Story” Lasseter gets back behind the wheel after a 7 year absence for this high octane animation adventure set in the world of NASCAR racing.
Owen Wilson plays Lightning McQueen, a cocky young racer on the verge of winning the legendary “Piston Cup”, who crashes on his way to the championship decider in a sleepy Route 66 town called Radiator Springs.
Initially desperate to leave, he slowly learns the value of self sacrifice and friendship after meeting Doc Hudson (Paul Newman) - a battle hardened 1951 Hudson Hornet.
Yet again, the Pixar team have blown a gasket in their pursuit of technical perfection and the opening Days of Thunder style race sequence is a miracle of modern animation.
But their latest money making vehicle runs out of gas after the first half hour as we head into the thrill free hamlet of Radiator Springs.
A conspicuous absence of Pixar’s trademark wit, and a boot full of automotive puns (such as “The Jay Limo Show” or “Float like a Cadillac, sting like a Beamer”) are unlikely to be appreciated by a target audience of youngsters who will no doubt be asking “are we nearly there yet?” well before the final credits role.
It looks like the wheels may finally have come off for Lasseter and co.
Disappointingly, there is no commentary from director John Lasseter on this patchy special features package. Instead, we get an uninspiring featurette entitled “Inspiration For Cars” that is erroneously billed as “an exciting journey with John Lasseter that explores how the story was born”.
Lasseter also introduces four deleted scenes (this number should have been doubled by pruning some more of the dead wood from the film’s bloated middle section) that were not deemed good enough for the final cut.
The extras are rescued, however, by two animated shorts, “Mater And The Ghostlight” (starring the film’s trusty tow truck Mater voiced by comedian Larry The Cable Guy) and One Man Band, which played before the film during its cinema run this summer. The latter won an Oscar in 2005 for animators Mark Andrews and Andrew Jimenez.
Unlike monsters, toys, or bugs it is impossible to anthropomorphise automobiles. And this visual impediment places an even greater responsibility on the voice actors who, apart from Newman’s gravely ex champ, all seem stuck in second gear.
Staring: Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Dan Whitney, Michael Keaton, Jeremy Clarkson
Directed by: John Lasseter
Extras: Deleted scenes, 'Inspiration For Cars': an exciting journey with John Lasseter that explores how the story of Cars was born, 'Mater And The Ghostlight': an exclusive new animated short created for this DVD starring Mater, the rusty but trusty tow truck!, 'One Man Band': the animated short film